Global investors are keen to invest in valuable Irish companies, says a co-founder of one of Ireland’s most progressive law firms.
Cork-based solicitors ReganWall are talking to multiple international investors seeking information about high-value Irish companies across all sectors. Having been tentative for the first few weeks of lockdown, overseas investors are now eager to get back on the pitch, with high-value Irish companies very much on their minds.
ReganWall advised Dublin City University spin-out Iconic Translation Machines on its recent acquisition by by London-listed RWS Holdings in a deal worth up to $20m (€.17.8m). Dr John Tinsley and Dr Páraic Sheridan founded language technology software company Iconic in 2013.
“Covid has meant that we don’t meet people for coffee, which we do miss to be honest, but our business has continued to grow all the same,” said Kieran Regan, who formed ReganWall along with Adrian Wall in 2018. “My last face-to-face meeting with John and Páraic was in November; we managed the whole deal remotely.
“I suppose lockdown has shown that it doesn’t matter if you’re in Cork, Dublin or London, people are interested in a quality service not location.”
Closer to home, ReganWall also recently advised Keelvar, a UCC spinout specialising in AI supply chain software, on securing $18m in Series A funding. The round was led by Elephant and Mosaic Ventures, with participation from Paua Ventures.
“We are being approached by clients who are looking for acquisition opportunities. For instance, we might look at high-value Irish companies with older directors who perhaps don’t have any succession plan in place,” said Kieran Regan. “They may be considering selling.
“I suppose if you look at the deals we’ve advised on, you might say they tend to have a strong tech element to them, but that may just be because we’re a relatively young law firm so maybe we’re swayed that way.
“However, the investors who are approaching us tell us that they are sector agnostic. They are interested in looking at any opportunity. There are a lot of global companies out there who have not been too heavily impacted by Covid-19, they have resources and they want to invest in the right opportunities.”
Mr Regan likens that global investor appetite for spending to some well-paid staff in large Irish-based tech and pharma companies who have amassed savings during lockdown.
One local car dealership, and a client of ReganWall, is currently enjoying a phenomenal 75% conversion rate on sales enquiries. People in some quarters have clearly built up some extra disposable income.
“A lot of UK and US companies want to grow through acquisition, and they’re looking at Irish companies,” he said. “Any business that was strong prior to Covid will be strong after lockdown eases. That’s how investors view opportunities in Ireland.”
Of course, ReganWall also captured attention in legal circles when the firm formed an advisory board laden with seasoned executives: Brendan Lenihan, managing director of Navigo Consulting; Daire Coffey, founder of Perspectives; and Brendan O’Regan, founder and former executive chairman of Zenith Technologies.
ReganWall is the first Irish law firm to appoint an advisory board of this kind. The board will work with the firm’s partners to advise on strategic growth and direction.
ReganWall managing partner, Adrian Wall, said: “We have all had to adapt to a new way of working and our firm has taken full advantage of its existing agile practices and remote working tools, to continue to complete major transactions for clients.
“The appointment of our new advisory board, which has been long-planned, could not have come at a more opportune time. By leveraging the perspectives of business leaders from a variety of backgrounds, ReganWall will benefit from their strategic advice and in-depth guidance as we navigate the current climate.”
Partner Kieran Regan added: “The last few months has seen significant change for ReganWall as we adapted to remote working, completed several transactions for clients, including the recent Keelvar funding round, and hired more solicitors. Our new Advisory Board members will ensure we maintain our competitive edge as we plan the next steps for the firm.”
Brendan Lenihan will chair the advisory board. A former president of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland, he has acted as a strategic advisor to numerous successful Irish businesses. He is also a non-executive director of Bus Eireann, the HSE and a number of private companies.
Daire Coffey, a chartered director, has held senior and director roles at United Drug and with Enterprise Ireland in Dublin and Brussels. He is an accredited executive coach and was previously a business mentor with the Dublin City Enterprise Board.
Brendan O’Regan is the founder and former executive chair of Zenith Technologies, a world leader in delivering digital transformation solutions to the life sciences sector. He led Zenith while it attracted investment from GE Healthcare, and during its subsequent sale to Fortune 500 company, Cognizant.
ReganWall works with clients across the corporate and tech sectors. The firm recently advised Irish scientific software company Statsols, which developed clinical trial platform, nQuery, on its acquisition by global technology company Insightful Science.
Earlier this year, a team led by ReganWall partner Adam Griffiths, also worked on the acquisition of Irish validation services business, QualUs, by Danish company, Ellab (supported by EQT).
This follows on from another notable deal in the first quarter of 2020 when the firm represented Kerry technology company, ViClarity, on its merger with US financial services firm, PolicyWorks LLC.
Workhuman expands throughout pandemic
Irish tech firm Workhuman is now valued at $1.2 billion following the minority stake in the company taken by London-based alternative asset manager Intermediate Capital Group (IGC).
Dublin-based Workhuman’s social recognition and continuous performance management platform is used by clients including LinkedIn, Procter & Gamble, Cisco and Eaton.
Ove five million workers in 160 countries around the world are on the platform. The technology is designed to make employees feel more appreciated and socially connected in their work, while boosting productivity.
Workhuman’s growth has continued during Covid-19. Already this year, more than 300,000 employees have joined Workhuman’s Social Recognition and Life Events cloud products. It has also rolled out Moodtracker, an employee survey platform, while it is also offering free access until March 2021 to special editions of Life Events and Conversations, two of its cloud products.
“We are excited to welcome ICG as a strategic investor, while providing liquidity to some of Workhuman’s earliest supporters,” said Eric Mosley, Workhuman co-founder and CEO. “ICG’s support helps put us on a great path forward as we get ready for the next phase of Workhuman’s growth.
“If the Covid-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that we all need human connection. Our continued double-digit growth and ongoing business momentum is a sign that organisations are craving a way to build better relationships and foster trust with their employees, no matter where they are.”
Morgan Stanley advised Workhuman in relation to the IGC investment.
As part of Workhuman’s strategy to drive growth, it has appointed three new executives to its leadership team. Chris DeMeo, formerly of Staples, took the role of VP of customer marketing; Dr Patti Fletcher, who comes from SAP SuccessFactors, joins as VP of brand marketing; and Jason Griggs, previously at Workday, joins as SVP of global sales.
Brothers create an app to make pub orders contact-free
Brothers and pub owners Ryan and Mark Fegan have launched DrinkApp, a new universal app that allows publicans, restaurant owners and others to accept orders from patrons.
Developed in the past 18 months, DrinkApp was originally intended as a solution to queue management in busy bars, clubs and events. Its relevance has been reinforced by Covid-19.
The brothers are from Armagh. Mark owns a bar in Keady, Armagh. Their new tech firm, DrinkApp Ltd, is based in Hanover Quay, Dublin
Ryan Fegan said: “The idea for DrinkApp came to me about two years ago on a busy night in the bar that Mark owns. This small space was rammed. I began to wonder if there wasn’t an alternative solution to crowded pubs.
“The idea came to me that a universal app could eliminate the need to queue by allowing orders to be placed without having to leave the table, and DrinkApp was born.”
Since lockdown, the brothers have expanded and repurposed the app allow consumers to order a delivery from a nearby off-licence.
James Freeman, DrinkApp’s head of operations, said: “While Covid19 presented an opportunity to develop this side to the app, it isn’t limited to life in lockdown. We’ve been seeing a shift in consumer shopping behaviours for years now and web/app based localised ordering is really becoming the norm – and not just for groceries, taxis and takeaways.
“We are currently in talks with some of the biggest names in hospitality across Ireland with a view to getting this up and running as soon as possible in line with the reopening of the industry at the end of the month.”
Dell graduates gain new digital era skills
Employees from Dell Technologies Ireland in Limerick, Dublin and Cork have just virtually graduated from the inaugural new TRANSFORM programme.
Dell launched programme with Technology Ireland Software Skillnet, the IDA and Skillnet Ireland. It helps participants develop new skills to compete in the workforce of the future and in the field of emerging technologies.
The four-month, part-time programme’s modules include: Arti?cial Intelligence, Virtual Reality, Robotics, Internet of Things (IoT), Data Science, Cloud and Blockchain.
Sean O’Reilly, EMEA VP of Logistics and Limerick site leader at Dell Technologies Ireland, said: “Congratulations to all the graduating Dell Technologies team members. Despite the recent restrictions we have all had to navigate, they have risen to the challenge and completed this unique programme.”
Just under 300 employees from Dell Technologies have completed the programme. The course consists of two variants, the ’Practitioner Programme’, for staff from any business area, and the ‘Leader Programme’, for those in a leadership or in?uencer role.
Maire Hunt, network director, Technology Ireland Software Skillnet, said: “The TRANSFORM programme enables leaders and staff to understand future technologies and enhance those uniquely human skills which play a critical role in any business. With organisations developing the capacity to embed innovation aligned to accelerate digital transformation, the new digital workplace will be about being digital rather than doing digital.”